HUNTINGTON — A Cabell County organization that employs people with disabilities has requested to be included in a ballot vote for the next tax levy.
Representatives of Green Acres Regional Center attended a recent Cabell County Commission meeting to submit a letter requesting that the commission allow Green Acres to appear on a ballot for the next excess levy. The commission took the request under advisement.
Green Acres Executive Director Devin Slone, Sales Manager Matthew Muller and board Vice President Darrell Pratt attended Tuesday’s meeting. Both Slone and Muller attended a Cabell County Commission meeting earlier this year to make a similar request. Slone said the organization did not meet a deadline for a levy application last year.
“In order to maintain our current level of services to both our employees with disabilities and to our customer base throughout the county, it is imperative that we maintain the excess levy at a level that currently meets the present economic structure the center now faces,” Slone said while reading from the letter at Tuesday’s meeting.
Green Acres, which facilitates water bottling site LeSage Natural Water in Cabell County, employs people with disabilities. About 38 employees are from Cabell County, and all with the exception of one new hire make above minimum wage, Slone said.
The organization began receiving funds from a Cabell County levy after a vote in 1982. Slone told commissioners that Green Acres received about $700,000 last year from the levy and makes about $1.1 million from sales. Both funds are necessary for the organization to continue existing, he said.
Green Acres has placed and won awards in the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting Competition for its bottled water, which is filled and labeled by hand. Regional clients include Cabell Huntington Hospital, St. Mary’s Medical Center, Special Metals, Hillbilly Hotdogs and Marshall University.
In his comments, Muller told commissioners about a recent sale to a physical therapy practice in southern California. The owner contacted Green Acres after researching bottled water businesses and the mission of Green Acres.
Green Acres shares its levy with the Autism Services Center. In October, representatives from Autism Services attended a commission meeting to request pursuing a levy vote separately from Green Acres. CEO Jimmie Beirne, who was among those representatives, did not return a request for comment by press time.
Commissioners asked questions of those from Green Acres about the services that Green Acres provides and efforts to find other sources of funding. While most employees are from Cabell County, a few are from surrounding counties. The advisory board is made of 15 members, of which eight are from Cabell County, four from Wayne County, two from Mason County and one from Lincoln County, Pratt said.
Muller said state legislators had been contacted about finding funds.
Commission President Jim Morgan said the commission would accept the letter and then make a decision about the levy after reviewing it. The commission must approve a motion in order to put the levy on the Cabell County ballot in the May primary election. Green Acres is on the current levy, which expires June 30, 2022.
“We’re the first step to putting the levy out to the public as an elected body, but it also takes the public to … cast that vote, to place that upon themselves,” Commissioner Kelli Sobonya said.